2024 Will be Very Important, But Can the New Year Also Bring New Hope?

Photo/Srishti Priya

With several significant elections (India, Russia, Ukraine, Mexico etc.) being topped toward the end of the year by the US Presidential election, 2024 will be a very important year for the world. The more significant issue is whether this year will be able to bring new hope to a world that has been through a highly disruptive pandemic and dangerous wars during the last four years, and on top of this has seen a worsening of the threat to the life-nurturing conditions of the planet which has become the single most important issue today.

When the 21st century started the scientific basis of this very serious threat was already well established, but with least care for this the most powerful country and its close allies embarked on a series of wars (wrongly called wars on terror as these created immense terror on their own among millions of people threatened in most terrible ways by them) which set the world on a road of confrontation at a time when international cooperation and peace were most needed. At the same time the background for perhaps even more confrontations like that of Ukraine was being prepared by a series of wrong steps being taken in the direction of a most dangerous proxy war. To worsen the situation, some of the worst disregard for humanitarian concerns has been seen in the recent highly disproportionate response of Israel to the horrible initial attack by Hamas. While the world’s attention has been taken up by these entirely avoidable conflicts, life-threatening environmental problems including climate change have been worsening. This is where our precariously perched world finds itself at the end of 2023—in unprecedentedly dangerous times even though a majority of people appear to be going about their chores without much realization of the dangers.

In terms of facing the most important challenges which confront humanity in the 21st century, the first 23 years of the century have been largely a time of lost opportunities and even worsening trends. So much that should have been achieved and could have been achieved in the context of most urgent tasks has not been achieved.

It is in this context that the most important tasks for the new year 2024 should be visualized, and humanity will find hope if sincere efforts at a significant level can be made in taking ahead these tasks and hopes.

Briefly, the key task ahead is to create at a wide level an integrated agenda based on justice and equality, peace and disarmament, protection of environment and biodiversity in such a way that these various objectives are mutually supportive of each other and are pursued in a way that is linked to resolving the problems and threats which endanger the life-nurturing conditions of the planet.

The challenge is at the level of conceptualizing and spreading this understanding, as well as taking this forward in an action program. If such integrative understanding and actions can be realized on a significant scale, this will certainly give hope to a world which needs it much.

While the most important task is to resolve the life-threatening conditions before it is too late and to achieve this within a framework of justice and peace, when and how can this become a significant part of the social scene remains to be seen. People are already active on various aspects of such an agenda, which is a step forward but more linkages are needed before a more hope-giving movement incorporating various concerns can emerge.

During 2024 in times of important elections some of these concerns such as climate change are likely to be raised but only in some countries while other equally important concerns such as disarmament and elimination of nuclear weapons are likely to get much less attention. However if an integrated understanding emerges, then all the important issues are likely to get emphasized. Similarly in developed countries local economic problems are likely to be raised but not the much more serious problems of poorer countries. Again, if an integrated view spreads, then these problems too will be raised.

As increasing numbers of people and organizations follow such an integrated approach of bringing together all serious concerns, then cooperation among such people and organizations in various countries can increase, increasing the impact they can make.

In this and other ways, if an agenda of peace, disarmament, environment protection, justice and equality moves further, with increasing cooperation among people making efforts worldwide for this, and if this is taken forward in ways which raise hopes of resolving the existential crisis in time, then despite all difficulties 2024 can still bring significant hope to humanity and other forms of life.

Bharat Dogra is honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Man over Machine and A Day in 2071.      

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